Sunday, 25 October 2009
Part I of finding Ireland and my Mother's roots
I was discussing reading with a friend the other day and the sort of books I favour, when I realised that most of the books I read are set in America or Ireland. The first one was obvious to me, I spend so much time there and always stock up on books the minute I get there.
But I'd never really thought about how much I live the Irish authors before, Marion Keyes, Patricia Scanlon, Kathy Kelly et al I gobble all the words up in their books the minute they release a new one. I love the words they use that are just so Irish, like rashers (bacon) feck (well guess that one!)and at the certain Irish phrasing used.
What I'd never really thought about was why, which is one of those eureka moments when the blinding obvious bites you on the bottom.
I am half Irish, my mother came from County Tyrone in the North.
She left Ireland when she was 17 to start nursing in England. She chose Walsall the town she arrived in as the name of the hospital, the Manor Hospital,made her think it sounded like a place in the country. She got a real culture shock as she came from a small friendly country town and suddenly found herself in an area christened the Black Country based on the grime and dirt, as it was the centre of industrial Britain.
She met my father when they were both 21 and married when they were 25. I was a honeymoon baby and arrived 10 months later.Followed two years later by my little sister. We were a complete and very happy family.
The only sadness my mother had that couldn't be fixed was the fact that when she married my English Protestant father she was disowned by her family and excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
She only saw her parents once after she'd married and that was when they were dying.
After that she never went back to Ireland and whatever feelings she had, she kept locked inside for many years.
Unfortunately no-one can keep pain indefinitely and living with that, and my father who suffered from what was then called manic depression turned them both to drink as a way to try and escape their feelings.
My father had his own demons to deal with as his childhood was emotionally very tough, and he didn't have any more resources to deal with his issues than my mother had. So the pair of them were co-dependant and troubled by their individual pasts, but throughout their love for each other and their children stayed strong.
They also both smoked like chimneys, So a combination of alcohol, stress and cigarettes caused by darling Mummy to get cancer when she was 57years old. She got cancer of the oesophagus. It was diagnosed in June, and she had horrible major surgery to no avail and she was dead in November.
I have so many memories of that time, and over the years have written them here. So I don't want to do that again.
More I want the set the scene for the story of my going to find my Mums roots a few years later when the boys and I went to Ireland, so part II of this story will follow soon.